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Coffee Robot Makers Bring Up a New Barista Culture

Notwithstanding the talks about automation threatening barista jobs, coffee robot makers claim their high-tech products are not meant to replace humans. Instead, intelligent espresso machines should serve to transform the brewing routine where it is not an enjoyable occupation but a burdensome duty.

The variety of concepts

Since the appearance of the first coffee maker equipment not attended by a human—the vending automat, the offer of automated brewing solutions has grown more varied.

Robots for sale today include solutions that can be roughly categorized into:

Barista bots—where the coffee servers are not people but collaborative or industrial robotic arms. The machines carry out the total of brewing operations, including grinding beans, infusing water, frothing milk, etc.—to deliver any menu item of customer choice.

Robo kiosks—sort of advanced vending machines, incorporating multiple robotic mechanisms and requiring human intervention only for maintenance and refilling. Similarly to bots, kiosks handle orders from a button tap on the user gadget to ejecting a hot drink through a serving window.

Commercialized projects

The Briggo startup launched a major project selling kiosk-type robotic coffee bars. Conventional java varieties and gourmet specialties—the menu in a Briggo kiosk is as diverse as in any other fancy brewing spot, featuring about 15 items. Customers enjoy complete visibility into the brewing process—how long it takes to deliver an order, what temperature the water should have, etc.

Robotic waitstaff—humanoid or any other type of intelligent machines, whether accepting or distributing orders, at a restaurant, a café, or any other catering location. Robotic servers can fit in perfectly into existing spots, with slight rearrangement enabling the machines to maneuver among tables and interact with customers and personnel.

Implementation examples

Engineers at Bear Robotics developed a “mechanical waitress” named Penny whose designation is to assist the personnel at a catering location. Maneuvering between tables, it can bear food and drinks to guests, fetch menu cards or bills, or perform any other simple operations. Developers emphasize the robot is not to replace humans—rather to take the burden of running miles daily. Instead waiters get more time to communicate with customers, hence more chances to get higher tips.

Automated drive thrus or cafeteria look like futuristic settings—smart robotic mechanisms working in sync to fulfill orders non-stop. No humans visible around unless maintenance is needed. Apart from coffee, the robots at the locations serve cold beverages, snacks, and other foods—anything one would expect to find in a conventional café.

Enhancing customer experience

The coffee maker concepts are most suitable for setting up sales at the spots where building a large café makes no business sense but workloads are high for a human barista. These locations embrace airports, educational establishments, business centres, etc.

Built around a robot, the coffee maker solutions answer demands for prompt and quality barista services. For a human working under time pressure, errors are next to inevitable, whereas smart machines cope with the task efficiently. Consistency is another problem that robotic bars eliminate: program the appliance to follow a specific recipe—and it will reproduce the same taste as many times as needed.

Customer experience with robotic baristas comes down essentially to tapping a button and enjoying a drink:

1. To make a purchase, a buyer runs an app on a smartphone or selects a beverage from a console menu connected to a functional module. So, ordering can be remote or on the spot. 2. The automated coffee maker (e.g., a robotic arm or another mechanism) grinds a portion of beans and supplies water in adequate proportion to brew a joe. 3. Brewing is in accordance with predefined user preferences—selected ingredients, recipe, water temperature, cooking time, milk froth, a flavor, etc. 4. The machine dispenses the ordered drink and delivers it to the customer, always with a predictable quality.

Added value for business

In terms of running a barista business, robotic coffee makers provide benefits beyond enhancing customer experience:


Since less space is required to house an outlet, such as a kiosk or a stand with a robotic arm, rent payments are reduced.


Mistakes due to human factor and associated costs are reduced.


Robots collect data to provide valuable insights into key performance indicators—cycle time, demand variations, as well as most and least frequent orders.


Analysis of the acquired business data can aid in personalizing user experience, which has the potential to become a strong selling point.


Starting with a single spot, one can build a chain of robot coffee bars from scratch. The market abounds in franchising offers for sale, whereby a franchisor lends its rights as a brand holder to a franchisee for a franchise payment.

New barista experience at home

Household coffee machines have also gone through a transformation, though in a manner that is different from commercial installations. The objective is the same: new home appliances aim at upgrading the java brewing process from an average-tasting drink to one with customized properties.

Brewing machines are growing smarter—extending the functionality while becoming sleeker and more compact in size, featuring IoT compatibility and Internet connectivity, etc.

The intelligence of a home coffee maker embraces:

• precise temperature, soak time, and strength regulation
• bean grinding feature with adjustable finesse
• saving favorite brewing settings
• downloading and cooking to recipes from the web or special apps
• voice control with virtual assistants (Alexa, Google, et.) or remote control via smart hubs
• barcode reading technology to deliver customized flavors with a single touch
• pre-ordering consumables (capsules for brewing)